The Blessing Way

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

And Mary sang:
My innermost being magnifies the Most High,
my spirit rejoices in the One who heals,
who has lovingly looked upon the lowliest of servants.
From now on, all generations will call me blessed …
Luke 1:46-48

What might it mean to be blessed and to be a blessing?

Years ago, while overseeing intake
at a women’s shelter on a frigid Chicago night,
I broke the chilling news that there was no more room.

Painfully, I instructed
the waiting line
to seek warmth elsewhere.

When offering direction to a bundled woman,
she extended an icy hand,
exuded a warm smile and thanked me.

With unexpected calm,
she addressed my distress
by declaring: ‘It’s alright, not to worry, I am blessed!’

Bemused and disturbed,
I watched her shamble off,
down the windswept city street.

With nowhere to lay her head, how can she be blessed?
While daily, I am undone by mundane frustrations,
she, with just cause for indignation, chose to bless.

The Beatitudes are a set of descriptions of a free life … When you can weep, when you can identify with the little ones, when you can make peace, when you can be persecuted and still be joyful; then you’re doing it right. Richard Rohr

Among the oft-quoted, least heeded of Jesus’ teachings,
the Beatitudes describe poor, grieving, gentle, forgiving, clear-hearted,
justice-minded, peaceable, persecuted folk as the blessed ones.

Such wisdom upends our understanding
of what it usually means to be graced
blessed, lucky, fortunate, charmed, happy.

Driving home his disconcerting doctrine,
Jesus added the mandate to bless all who curse us
and love any who would call us ‘enemy’.

Can we place ourselves among that tribe of poor,
mourning, meek, merciful, peace and justice-hungry people?
If not, we may be looking for another brand of benediction.

The blessed are not the sure, sinless, successful, or well-liked;
but the little ones who live and love out of a foundational sense
of complete interdependence we call grace.

Only one response can maintain us: gratefulness for witnessing the wonder. For the gift of our unearned right to serve, to adore, and to fulfill. It is gratefulness which makes the soul great.
Just to be is blessing. Just to live is holy.
Rabbi Abraham Heschel

Blessing expresses both our motivation and life-orientation.
When we bless, we are not making holy.
We are simply declaring what is already, always sacred.

There is much in life we cannot alter;
brutality and hatreds that tear us apart, and pains we cannot take away.
Still, we can choose to bless, come what may!

This blessing power is a love-force, available to all,
and capable of transforming how we perceive
receive and relate to whatever comes our way.

Blessed child of earth and sky,
your life is precious, holy, always sacred,
and so is every other.

Only those who know their blessedness
can be a blessing to others.
So, blessed child of the Holy One, may you live up to your name,

joe
Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill

Now available: A New Book by Joe Grant

Reachable

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019


Now is the fulfillment time, God’s Realm is within reach.
Mark 1: 15

Seeker,
How long is your life’s reach?

As a young man
I was blessed to live, for a time,
among tribal people in the Amazon rain-forest.

Once, the whole village
set off for a fishing camp
along a distant tributary.

In single file
we walked a narrow forest track
through swirling predawn mist.

Along the way women and girls
reached down with ease to pick up pods,
cracked open by monkeys and macaws.

Some of the Brazil nuts
they placed in baskets,
others they simply pushed into the soil.

All the while, high above us in each direction
tall trees converged into the distance;
a seamless canopy hung with Brazil nuts.

Suddenly it struck me;
as we walked, they were gently harvesting and planting
an endless avenue of lofty nut trees.

Later I was astounded
to discover that these trees
grow up to 150 feet tall and live for 500 years.

How far-sighted to consider,
when taking a walk, to guarantee a verdant store
of food and shelter for twenty generations to come!

So, I am left to wonder,
in the midst of my mundane tasks and travels,
what consideration I give to the latitude of life here and hereafter.

And what will remain
one hundred years hence,
of my life, loves and legacy?

I am one with the source insofar as I too act as a source by making everything I have received flow again. Raimon Panikkar

Whenever we make ourselves available,
receptive to reality unfolding,
we become reachable.

Oh to have hearts laid open,
till all the world spills in
and we feel at home with the wholeness of being.

What other purpose then for prayer,
but to dispel every illusion of separation
and delusion of division.

And rather than close eyes and ears
to the tides of these trying times,
constantly treading waters of distraction and distress,

we might surrender to the buoyancy of the swell
and be carried away by the sweep
of currents much broader and deeper.

Are we not all born to be visionaries,
made for mysticism,
shaped to receive, reflect and reverence?

God, whose love and joy are present everywhere,
cannot come to visit you unless you are not there.

Angelus Silesius

Prayerful presence then is at once a planting and a harvest
of simple, intentional invitations to life
that are always outreaching and open-ended.

Thus, looking out, over and beyond,
gazing further and deeper down,
prayer provides a corrective lens to collective nearsightedness;

extending our attention span
to bridge the chasm
of busyness and boredom,

befriending quiet
till softer sounds
become perceptible.

Such are the fruits of receptivity
to a Realm that is not quite beyond us
but over-washes us should we make ourselves reachable.

We wait in the quietness for some centering moment that will redefine, reshape and refocus our lives … Dost Thou understand what it is like to be caught between the agony of one’s own private needs and to be tempest-tossed by needs that overwhelm and stagger the mind and paralyze the heart? … For the long loneliness, the deep and searching joy and satisfaction, the boundless vision … we thank Thee. Howard Thurman

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill

Coming in November 2019, A New Book by Joe Grant

Wandering and Welcome: Meditations for Finding Peace Pre-Order Set For Release On 11/12/2019 12:00:00 AM

To pre-order: https://shop.franciscanmedia.org/products/wandering-and-welcome-meditations-for-finding-peace-pre-order-set-for-release-on-11-12-2019-12-00-00-am